Marketing Automation Best Practices for 2019
Marketing automation software continues to change the way businesses communicate with customers. The applications perform the many repetitive tasks that, in the past, required the engagement of many employees. Aside from the savings in labour, automation tools have improved the profitability of businesses of every size. Although 2018 brought marketing automation to centre stage, this year will see new trends emerge that can revolutionise the business world.
The ability to narrow marketing efforts to well-defined prospects, for example, promises to directly add to profitability by eliminating waste. Already, more than half of all B2B firms use marketing automation, and consumer-oriented firms recognise the technology as important to their success. Business owners and managers should learn the following marketing best practices for 2019 to stay relevant throughout the year.
Focus on Customer Loyalty and Retention
Selling to existing customers costs less than recruiting new customers, so customer service and satisfaction will continue to dominate the business landscape this year. Crowded global markets, however, bring intense competition, making imperative the development of customer loyalty and retention. Marketing automation can help by maintaining an attentive and engaged customer base.
In many settings, the cost of marketing increases at the end of the customer conversion process. Such expenses can involve retention and advocacy initiatives and, for feasibility, depend on customers to act as “micro-influencers” or brand advocates. Of course, the ultimate goal for pre and post-sale marketing is to retain customers and, thereby, reduce a firm’s average transaction cost.
Automation involves maintaining contact with customers and keeping them conscious of a particular brand or product. When properly executed, an automation campaign will cause a current customer to immediately buy from the same brand in the future rather than again shopping from all available competitors. Successful automation implementations must, therefore, emphasise customer loyalty.
Offer Personalised Experience and Relevant Content
Automation efforts must offer a personalised experience if they are to encourage loyalty. Such a need helps explain why loyalty programs have produced amazing results for so many consumer-oriented brands. Of course, customers already are wise to event-based emails, because so many companies use them in response to particular consumer actions. Knowing this, every interaction must have well-defined personalisations that make the customer feel personally known and valued.
During this year, the business world will gain access to fantastic tools that use Big Data to drive branded personal insights directly to the consumer. Software can now harness and harmonise customer purchasing behaviour as well as information from user profiles and social media to create astounding and well-defined messages that compel users to revisit branded websites and again buy from them.
To match relevant content, firms must attract prospects to their website and then track their on-site and off-site behaviours. Using that information, brands can deliver customised messages that resonate with recipients and encourage sales conversions. Such personal messages eliminate the complications that commonly accompany spam because recipients enjoy feeling personally known and valued.
Optimise for Mobile
Mobile internet users now rule. Brands that fail to pursue a mobile-first strategy will lose business to competitors who understand the value of mobile. A recent study shows that mobile internet traffic surpassed desktop usage and shows no signs of declining. Businesses must know that their websites and email messages are also accessed on smartphones and tablets, and optimise the customer experience accordingly.
Google has spearheaded a mobile-first movement that has prioritised sites in search results that cater to mobile users. Companies should expect the trend to continue as secondary search engines and social media sites do everything possible to accommodate smaller screens and mobile internet speeds. This year, a new trend will emerge as companies seek to create seamless transitions between multiple devices.
Adopt Account Based Marketing (ABM)
More than three-quarters of marketing leads never result in a sale. ABM trims the waste from traditional marketing by targeting a well-defined set of actions. As a result, companies can directly engage with the accounts that are most likely to become profitable while allowing the rest to do as they please. ABM reduces average conversion costs and, therefore, results in a higher ROI for marketing budgets.
This year, ABM will continue to grow in popularity as retargeting and market segmentation help firms to reduce their exposure to leads that will never convert into customers. Many third-party ABM tools have already entered the market and new technological developments will further help to improve marketing automation. Businesses that integrate ABM with their marketing automation can substantially reduce transaction costs
Integrate Multiple Systems
No single system can address every organisational need. Communications, for example, involve numerous channels, which allow customers to choose their preferred method to integrate with brands. Marketing automation works in a similar way. Although many applications exist that can automate contact with customers and leads, no single approach can complete the entire job.
Emerging marketing automation best practices call for the integration of multiple systems to optimise capabilities. Every system used by a business, including CRM, must work together to support marketing automation. When every application talks with others, automation functions have sufficient data to feed advertising platforms, social media efforts and marketing channels.
Integrating multiple systems helps firms compute their ROI so that they can tweak their strategies and campaigns to get the best possible results. Of course, other systems, in turn, benefit from integration with automated tools. Customer responses, for example, can enter directly into CRM applications to ensure that customer service and sales representatives always have access to recent data.
Social media is also one important source for data about your leads. The best marketing automation software can be integrated with all your social media platforms, and incorpotates data derived from social listening tools such as Meltwater directly to customer profiles.
Embrace Smarter Marketing Automation Platforms
Marketing automation platforms (MAPs) have evolved and will lay a solid foundation for best practices in 2017. These tools utilise machine learning to build a systemic environment that makes automation native to business systems. As a result, organisations organically access automation. Specialised MAPs will continue emerging as companies find ways to make foundational changes to their marketing efforts.
As rule-based automation yields to intelligent systems, brands will build deep customer relationships that resonate on an elemental level. Such native systems can detect granular changes in customer behaviour, allowing brands to become increasingly responsive to rapidly changing market dynamics. As a result, automation can drive every aspect of the marketing mix, from pricing to content creation.
Marketing success depends on sending relevant messages to the right people at the right time. Automation tools have already transformed the way brands interact with customers. This year, best practices will continue to evolve by emphasising customer satisfaction and loyalty. Technological developments such as the move to mobile-first tactics and ABM will accelerate the effectiveness of marketing automation, especially as system integration and foundational platforms become commonplace.
About the author:
Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister